Named as a top travel destination for 2024, Accra, in the West African region of Ghana, is emerging as a cultural hub for fashion, music, food, and culture. And combining all four elements is the area’s trend-defining music festival: AfroFuture, which is set to go global in 2024.
Founded in 2017 by Abdul Karim Abdullah and Kenny Agyapong, AfroFuture (which rebranded this year after formerly being known as Afrochella) has become a tentpole attraction for Ghana, drawing in millions of visitors annually from across the continent, as well as the US, Europe, and the UK. This year, before and after the main attractions on December 28th and 29th, festival-goers were able to attend the AfroFuture Expo, which featured a “Stronger Together” fitness bootcamp, workshops connecting African and Caribbean creatives through dance, and a “Flower Healing Therapy” session. This, of course, was just the warm-up. Once the festivities were in full swing, revelers discovered emerging talent on the Rising Star stage, got dressed up in traditional clothing for a photoshoot, and danced until sunrise with live sets on the main stage from major Nigerian and Ghanaian afrobeats artists Davido, Adekunle Gold and Black Sherif. Even if you do not recognize these names, you’ve most definitely heard their work on your Spotify playlists or through various TikTok Challenges — the dance for Davido’s “Unavailable” has already racked up over a million views on the app.
This year’s event promised to be the most immersive celebration to date, elevating “thriving millennial talent in Africa” according to the AfroFuture Team — and it didn’t disappoint. But musical talent was only half the equation. With a crowd of art- and fashion-savvy fans streaming in from all corners of the global diaspora, AfroFuture is not the place to fall back on your standard issue denim shorts and flower crowns. Attendees bring their style A-game to the festival — it’s not just an opportunity to be seen, but also to reflect one’s culture and heritage. So many showgoers tap into local talent and designers — like Chalé, Threaded Tribes, Kustom Looks, Reeyah Swim, and Larry Jay — to create one-of-kind outfits from scratch.
Still, like every moment that brings together like-minded creatives, some common sartorial threads do emerge. And the defining themes from this past December are both an excellent barometer for where international festival fashion may be heading in the months ahead — and a dreamy, sun-kissed escape for those of us living through and grey and chilly winter on the other side of the planet. Keep scrolling to get inspired by the most thrilling AfroFuture fashion trends of 2023.
On The Fringe
As seen on the Spring/Summer 2024 runways of Alexander McQueen, Prada, and Gucci, fringe in both long and short length was seen on all manner of dresses, skirts, and accessories. In a more natural texture, like straw, it adds an extra layer of free-spirited drama to a capacious bag — an essential for toting around extra water and sunscreen when you’re outside dancing all day.
Color Us Happy
Cheerful orange hues are huge right now, with colour authority Pantone naming a soft peach tone (i.e. Peach Fuzz) as their color of the year. Whether you go for a bold juicy shade or a softer sherbet tone, the color family is inherently optimistic, and all those wearing it seemed to embody its joyfulness. Because this is hardly an introverted look, pair it back with equally eye-catching hues (the fiery romper above would be wonderful with bright green or yellow); there are endless combinations that can be dialed up or down for effect.
The boundaries of what could be achieved with natural hair was on full display at the festival, ranging from braids and Bantu knots to twist outs, and Afro puffs. Watch out for more iterations of these hairstyles on an international stage, especially as Pinterest is predicting big hair as a growing trend among Gen Z with natural hair textures. Meanwhile, searches for big braid hairstyles were up +30% this past year.
DIY clothing — by way of cool customization and repurposed materials — was a defining focus at AfroFuture. Tie-dye, rustic details, and elements of patchwork helped to create distinctive looks that allow an individual’s personality to shine through.
Undoubtedly an homage to the Alien Superstars unleashed by Beyoncé this summer, metallics added a glamorous touch tied to the festivals re-brand as a nod to the future. Gold eye make-up looks were combined colorful looks with candy wrapper iridescence.
Soccer (called “football” in Ghana) has recently gained legions of new fans thanks to the success of women’s teams. And with the humble jersey being elevated to luxury status — see the runways of Vetements, Grace Wales Bonner, and Marine Serre — it is the perfect layering piece for high-low concert dressing. Here, the simplicity of the red, gold, and green of the Ghana flag colors paired with classic denim shorts is the ideal uniform for the festivals fields.
Proving #Barbiecore’s staying power, the AfroFuture crowd was most definitely thinking pink. Many kept with the ethos of the iconic doll by opting for cute and girly pieces adorned with ruffles and embellishment.
Y2K All Day
Gucci’s re-issue of the horse-bit bag (which just celebrated its 20th anniversary) for the Fall 2023 season demonstrates that there is still plenty of love for all things from the aughts. Streamlined shoulder purses offering style and structure were a popular option at the festival, and many guests revealed many their styles were thrifted or vintage — a budget-friendly route that makes the trend even easier to try.
Tried, True, & Totally New
The AfroFuture festival was filled with one-of-a-kind creations melding time-honored motifs and techniques with a right-now fit. Looking to upgrade your resort wear in 2024 ? Then tap into homegrown designers from Ghana (like the aforementioned Larry Jay and Reeyah Swim), who specialize in turning traditional textiles into something totally modern.
Stretchy and sporty looks are a choice when it comes to the physical undertaking that is a two-day music festival. So it came as little surprise to see the scene filled with looks that combined comfort and chic confidence by way of bold prints and highlighter tones — think all-in-one jumpsuits, sports bras, and biker shorts layered with oversized shirts and cargo pants. Hula hoop accessory optional, of course.
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